LINGUIST List 14.1741

Thu Jun 19 2003

Diss: Syntax/Pragmatics/Semantics: Snyder: 'The...'

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. kmsnyder, The Relationship between Form and Function...

Message 1: The Relationship between Form and Function...

Date: Thu, 19 Jun 2003 12:17:35 +0000
From: kmsnyder <>
Subject: The Relationship between Form and Function...

Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Kieran Margaret Snyder 

Dissertation Title: The Relationship between Form and Function in
Ditransitive Constructions

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: 	Text/Corpus Linguistics ,
			Language Acquisition 

Subject Language:	French (code: FRN)
			Tahitian (code: THT)
			English (code: ENG )

Dissertation Director 1: Ellen F. Prince

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation explores the nature of the relationship between
syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. The discourse properties of
ditransitive alternations are investigated in a series of
crosslinguistic corpus studies. Speakers of different languages attend
to the same non-syntactic factors, most notably information status and
heaviness, in word order choice tasks. While the general tendency to
place newer, heavier information later in the utterance is
crosslinguistically robust, the particular pairings between word order
and discourse properties vary across languages. The acquisition data
considered suggest that children use some but not all of the discourse
properties that adults use in choosing word order, mastering
ditransitive syntax before they fully master its use. Children are at
least eight years old before they attain adult-like performance in
pairing a given word order with all of its associated discourse
properties. The Tahitian French language contact data support a view
of substratum influence in which speakers import L1 properties into L2
in the absence of specific negative evidence to the contrary. I argue
for a model in which an independent syntax is used but not determined
according to general processing-based considerations that lead
speakers to place newer, heavier information after older, lighter
information. Speakers package their utterances as felicitously as
possible given the syntactic options available to them in their native
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